Atkins parent SNC-Lavalin’s chief executive Neil Bruce has said the firm has had enough of its employees “being used as a puck in a political hockey game,” as Canadian politicians row over a corruption case brought against the firm.
Prime minister Justin Trudeau has denied there has been political interference with efforts to prosecute the engineering giant over alleged breaches of anti-corruption laws.
SNC-Lavalin has been accused of involvement in fraud and corruption in Libya, before 2012. It denies the allegations, but federal charges have been laid.
Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould has alleged she experienced “consistent and sustained” political interference as she decided whether to offer SNC-Lavalin a deal which would protect it from a trial.
Trudeau said his government has always acted appropriately and wanted to protect its 9,000 Canadian jobs at the firm, but in his latest statement at the time of writing admitted there had been an “erosion of trust” between his office and the attorney general.
“Our belief is our employees are being used as a puck in a political hockey game. We don’t deserve it and we’ve had enough,” Bruce told analysts as the firm delivered its 2018 results in February. He said the firm had done nothing wrong, has never asked for charges to be dropped or anything to circumvented the judicial system.
A successful prosecution could result in the firm being barred from working for the Canadian government for 10 years, putting jobs at risk.
The firm could avoid a trial, if it signs up to a deferred prosecution agreement, under which it could accept a penalty such as a fine.
Bruce has said that a deferred prosecution agreement would result in individuals being brought to justice and innocent employees, pensioners, shareholders and the supply chain protected.